QUEEN’S PARK – The Ontario Progressive Conservatives are sending the McGuinty Government a message. That message is based on an old adage that if you care who gets the credit, anything can be achieved. “2012 can be a better year than the one now behind us if only the government shows a grasp of economic issues”, PC Finance Critic Peter Shurman signalled today to Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. “Ontarians are looking to all of us now to take action on a fraying economy,” continued Shurman. “The rating agencies are watching too. Another – and truly disastrous – credit downgrade can be avoided if we demonstrate that we can act together to tackle our jobs, spending and debt crisis.”
Shurman offered, as an example of recent discord about Ontario’s direction on jobs and our economy, the debate over business tax rates during an economic downturn. Duncan had previously said that such business tax increases ‘will kill Ontario’s competitive edge.’ “The new Liberal spin is that scrapping the next round of legislated business tax reductions would not harm our struggling manufacturing sector, which constitutes 15 per cent of our economy,” Shurman said. “But this tax increase would be foisted on the other 85 per cent.”
Shurman stressed that our economy doesn’t work in silos this way: “Ontario manufacturers depend on the services sector. It’s called ‘a business input’ – just like labour or energy costs. So of course a tax hike on the services sector will hit the bottom line of our hard-pressed manufacturers. “To deny this is like saying a jump in the price of steel would have no impact on the cost of a new car.”
Shurman noted that any about-face on employer tax reductions would come on top of the January 1 WSIB payroll tax hike, forecast Hydro increases of eight per cent, a rising Canadian dollar for our exporters, the expected further deterioration of the US economy and the continuing crisis in the Eurozone.
“So I urge the Minister to begin 2012 by recognizing economic reality on the impact of higher business taxes,” Shurman said. “This would mark a New Year of cooperation on milestones yet to come – including the Drummond report later this month and the spring Budget – where the rubber really hits the road.”
Shurman recalled an old saying that, ” ‘There is no limit to what someone can do if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit’. My New Year’s message to Minister Duncan is to heed this advice,” Shurman concluded.